Look at these women – actors, models, musicians, photographers. Even the Queen. International Women’s Day, while it may become more and more controversial the closer we get to gender equality, is an important day to celebrate, whatever your gender.
Only a few weeks ago I had a scary realisation – I’m probably the first woman in my family to have ever experienced the world on a level playing field to men. I’m not exaggerating – my mother, only one generation above me, took Home Economics classes with other girls at school, joined the ranks of secretaries after college, and while she is an amazing mother and housewife, she’s not been afforded the opportunities I so easily take for granted today.
Today I’ve thought a lot about Emma Watson’s speech at the UN, and how it takes both genders to recognise a balance is needed – gender should not be a qualifier in any case, unless it’s something specific such as casting the roles of Romeo & Juliet (and even then I’m sure there must be all-women casts, or gender switches, or gender fluidity in this realm… I love when boundaries like these are broken!)
One of the lucky ones
And while it may seem a little premature to say it, for the majority of my life, my gender has not defined who I am or what I do. As a child I didn’t want to be a princess, I hated playing hairdressers, and could never do a handstand (although there was some pressure there that I should do all those things based on my gender). Even now, I don’t use my wily charms to get anything I want (although flaunting or appreciating your assets as a woman is a woman’s right), and I’ve always sought after my career goals and hobbies through knowledge, perseverance, and drive – all of which are genderless qualities. What I’m lucky to have experienced, is a right afforded onto me in all of the major decisions I have made, whether it be university applications, job interviews, or publishing my writing online.
This right isn’t experienced by every woman however. In the UK, women are still paid 14% less than men in the same job roles, and outside of Europe we see serious perversions of justice based on a person’s gender. Unionised, relatively well-paid female tea pickers are still discriminated against in India, and female labourers in Africa still battle on for even the simplest of rights.
Beauty for good
It’s for this reason that I’m highlighting the few little changes we can make as consumers of products from these regions of the world. For me, this is chiefly green beauty, so I’m happy to say even these niche beauty boutiques are looking out for women of the world. L’Occitane, a French natural beauty brand, are donating 100% of the profits of their Ultra Soft Balm* to NGO’s in Burkina Faso promoting women’s entrepreneurship and independence, for example. Can I also say here just how sweet-smelling this is? If you like a balm that doesn’t melt away in the pot after one swipe, this is the thing for you.
In fact, there are a number of organisations who do this all year round too. While I hope the main takeaway you have from this blog is that equality is coming but we all need to pitch in, these places will also support women who are less fortunate right now: